In my post yesterday on my partner’s first use of a bike in over 20 years, I mentioned how the street she first rode along, Biltstraat, was a busy road, connecting Utrecht’s ring road to the centre of town.
I decided to take a look at the conditions on an equivalent road in my town, Horsham. This is the Bishopric (also the Guildford A281 road), that is the main arterial route, from the west, into the town.
This photograph shows the end of this wide road, at the point, looking east, where it meets the pedestrianized centre of Horsham. The video below shows the conditions on this road, at 8:50 this morning.
No cyclists, despite this being (you would think) around the peak time for cycle commuting.
Further out of town on this road, there is a ‘cycle path’. But it is narrow, simply painted on the pavement.
The cycle path simply stops at the traffic lights shown below, as you head into town. You have to cross here, and then brave cycling on the road itself.
There is – notionally – a 30 mph limit on this road, but in my experience most drivers treat it as a ‘proper’ dual carriageway. Speeding is rife.
Note also that this is a deeply hostile junction for pedestrians, with ‘holding pens.’ If I want to make it to the pedestrianized centre of Horsham, which lies to the left of the above picture, I have to make FOUR separate road crossings, from the point where I am standing. This is what a cyclist would have to do if – logically – they wanted to go straight into town, and dismounted at this point.
Furthermore, this is the junction at which a female cyclist was seriously injured last year when she was ‘in collision with a van.’ I notice that someone recently seems to have ‘lost control’ and crashed into the barriers on the central island, judging by their deformed nature.
Is this a good environment for cycling? Would using a bicycle on these roads be an attractive alternative to using them by car? Because these are exactly the kinds of roads and junctions you have to cycle on if you want to get anywhere in Horsham. And Horsham residents are voting with their feet. Journeys by bicycle make up only 1% of the total number of journeys made here. It’s not hard to see why.
At the end of our ride in Utrecht, my partner asked – ‘Why wouldn’t you ride a bike?’
Well, with conditions for cycling like this in my town, I can think of an alternative question.
Why would you ride a bike?